Internet commerce giant Amazon.com said it was launching a program allowing consumers to purchase "online access" to books or to "any page, section, or chapter" of a book.
The service, called Amazon Pages, enables Internet users to "simply and inexpensively purchase and read online just the pages they need" of a book.
"For example, an entrepreneur interested in marketing his or her business could purchase the relevant chapters from several best-selling business books," the online retail giant said.
A second program, Amazon Upgrade, allows customers to "upgrade" the purchase of a physical book on Amazon.com to include online access.
This would, for example, enable a software developer who buys a programming book to have Internet access to the full text, Amazon.com said.
Offering another example of the use of this program, Amazon.com said: "Buy a cookbook and you will not only have it on your shelf, but also be able to access it anywhere via the Web."
It said the program builds on existing technology that allows customers to search text inside a book before purchasing it.
"Amazon Pages and Amazon Upgrade leverage Amazon's existing Search Inside the Book technology to give customers unusual flexibility in how they buy and read books," said Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon.com.
"In collaboration with our publishing partners, we're working hard to make the world's books instantly accessible anytime and anywhere."
The announcement came the same day Internet search giant Google said it was launching a virtual library of online access to millions of books from major libraries. Google said that for now it would offer only works in the public domain, sidestepping the issue of copyright protection.